Most Announcement Emails Suck by

The vast majority of “Announcement Emails” suck. They’re a barren wasteland of same-old, same-old:

“New items in stock!”

“We’re growing our company!”

“Happy Holidays!”

It isn’t that you and your business don’t have anything worthwhile to share… but like other marketing techniques, we tend to get stuck in a rut.

The problem with lame announcement emails is that they’re the exact opposite of what actually works. Standing out in today’s flooded inboxes, i.e., getting opened and clicked, only happens when you, well, stand out.

The good news is your announcement emails don’t have to suck. All it takes is a little thoughtfulness and a splash of creativity. If you’re getting ready to send out another stock announcement … stop.

Instead, grab ahold of one of these five stand-out announcement emails.

 

1) The Frequently-Asked-Questions Email

 

Almost every website has a list somewhere of frequently asked questions. Unfortunately, very few businesses take advantage of what a goldmine FAQs are for announcement emails and content marketing in general.

The problem is FAQs are usually buried somewhere deep in recesses of your website. However, instead of hiding your answers… leverage them to create emails that are virtually guaranteed to engage your list.

For instance, marketing mastermind Neil Patel gets thousands of questions every month. However, when I asked him what his most-frequent FAQ is — whether on social, through blog comments, or directly via email — he responded:

“By far, the number one question I get is, ‘How do you create a money making blog?’ In fact, that question was the inspiration behind my year-long project How I’m Going to Achieve the $100k a Month Challenge without Using My Name.

“Once that project was underway, however, a lot of the feedback reflected an even more pressing question: ‘How do you create a money-making blog in as little time as possible?’ In response, I put together The Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Money-Making Blog in 1 Hour.

“With both the series and the individual post, the [announcement] emails that went out were framed as answers to those exact questions.”

 

Email Marketing    Image Credit: Neil Patel

 

Alternatively, take a look at how Harry’s, purveyors of quality men’s shaving products, opens up the curtains of their operation by showing what goes into making their blades. What their customers might not have noticed is that this email is really a more elaborate demonstration of a few questions they cover on their FAQ page.

 

FAQs

 

The power of selecting your FAQs, or even creating an entire email sequence around them, is that you already know these are the topics your list, leads, and customers care about.

They’ve taken the time to ask – whether through email, a forum, or social media – so capitalize on them.

In other words, bring your list into your world by showing them how things work behind-the-scenes, give them insight into “why we do it this way,” and clearing up any misconceptions or common obstacles that might have led to more than a few disgruntled messages in the past.

 

2) The Questions-of-Your-Own Email

 

Answering questions via email is obvious enough, but have you ever thought about being the one asking them?

There’s no harm in reaching out to your customers and asking them to share their stories or feedback with you. In fact, most will appreciate that you’re interested.

Why? Because despite how dreadfully inhuman most emails are, email lends itself to intimacy — one-on-one conversations — far more readily than other online channels like social media.

Unfortunately, most of us still use email like a loudspeaker, pushing information out without thought for the person receiving it. They’re business centered instead of customer centered. This is especially true if you try to use generic surveys to ask your questions.

In opposition to that inhuman approach, here’s how fashion retailer ‘Joyus’ used their email platform to get feedback and improve their Net Promoter Score.

newsletter

Likewise, MarketingProf’s Ann Handley does this masterfully with her own email list:

 

Newsletters

I’ve used an even more stripped down approach to asking questions by adapting I Love Marketing’s Magic 9 Word Email template for a host of clients:

Subject Line: Hi [Name]

Email Body:

Hi [Name],

Are you still interested in [Niche Product]?

Thanks,

Me

In one case, I ran this simple campaign for a curriculum developer and the feedback was staggering. Not only was the open rate in the high 60% range … people actually wrote back.

Within hours of the emails going out, I got a follow-up from the client who said, “This is crazy! There’s no way I can keep up with this. What are we gonna do?” Now that’s what I call a “good” problem.

 

3) The Joy-Spreading-Celebration Email

 

Maybe you just won an incredibly lucrative seed round or landed a highly coveted big-game client. And sure, you and your team are excited. But the truth is if all you do is throw together a self-promotional blog post — press release style — and fire off a “Look how great we are” email… your list won’t care.

Does that mean you shouldn’t share your achievements? Of course not. But it does mean you have to infuse your achievements with hardcore joy.

How? By celebrating.

For example, consider Sally Hogshead’s recent announcement email when her book hit The New York Times bestseller list. The subject line was a single word – “speechless” – and the six lines within the email were overflowing with contagious enthusiasm:

email newsletter

The email even included a tiny gif at the end of Sally doing her own “happy dance”:

 

Email dance

 

Naturally, personal achievements lend themselves to this kind of celebratory tone. But what if you’re responsible for managing a brand? Can you still spread joy by announcing your big wins?

Absolutely. In fact, Trello did this brilliantly last year when they hit 10,000,000 users:

 

subscribers

Image Credit: Trello

Notice two things. First, both emails are insanely short. And second, they both ooze personality and positivity. Even better, with Trello’s celebration, they not only celebrate their achievement, but use it as a way to give back to the community that brought them there. After all, nothing gets your audience going like a really good answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?”

 

4) The OMG-That’s-Valuable Email

 

Just like you, I’m on somewhere between ten to fifteen different email lists at any given time. That means — day in and day out — I get a host of email updates announcing “new” blog posts, podcasts, SlideShares, infographics, and a host of the other content types.

And just like you… I rarely pay attention. In fact, I get so many emails with the words “Definitive” and “Ultimate” in their titles, superlatives like that are just white noise.

What isn’t white noise are announcement emails that stop me in tracks, slam my jaw to the floor, and force me to mutter under my breath, “O. M. to the G! Now that is valuable.”

GetResponse does this to me each and every year with their State of Email Marketing report:

 

email marketing report

 

Peep Laja did it a month ago when he used his birthday to draw a deeply reflective line in the conversion-rate optimization sand with “This I Believe – 25 Thoughts for Life”:

 

emailing

And I tried to do this with my own most recent post and email for Unbounce, “Clinton vs. Trump: 18 CROs Teardown the Highest Stakes Marketing Campaigns in US History”:

Email Campaign

Do you see what each of these announcements have in common?

They all dig deep… incredibly deep. Moreover, they each offer something unique and out of the ordinary: whether it’s GetResponse’s annual data dive, Peep’s uncharacteristic move into the realm of the personal, or my own timely, and influencer-driven, foray into political culture.

Naturally, you can’t do this with everything your business publishes, but when you do, drop something that’s legitimately “OMG”… go after it with both barrels.

 

5) The Worthy-Cause Email

 

Charitable support – especially at the enterprise and corporate levels – has gotten its fair share of bad press in recent times. Millennials in particular are wary of brands that overstep their social-justice bounds. Just ask Starbucks whose #racetogether campaign was roundly considered to be one the biggest social media fails of 2015:

 

Starbucks

 

The danger here – when making your own worthy-cause announcements – is coming off as opportunistic, like you’re taking advantage of a cause rather than genuinely supporting it.

Warnings aside, most people nonetheless appreciate companies that support worthy causes and give back to the communities around them.

After the disastrous Nepal earthquake in 2015, online design marketplace Creative Market announced that they would use the platform to generate funds for the relief efforts. It was a touching move that showed they were both in tune with what was going on in the wider world and willing to lend a helping hand.

 

Email subscribers

 

While the cause may not be directly related to your industry or clients, if it’s something they feel passionately about, it serves as a way to provide them with an opportunity to give back and show that you also care about their interests.

 

Announcement Emails Don’t Have to Suck

 

It’s true: most “Announcement Emails” suck. But don’t despair. Instead of firing off the same old unengaging dribble everyone else is churning out – “New items in stock!” “We’re growing our company!” or “Happy holidays!” – use one of the five attention grabbing types listed above:

  1. The Frequently-Asked-Questions Email
  2. The Questions-of-Your-Own Email
  3. The Joy-Spreading-Celebration Email
  4. The OMG-That’s-Valuable Email
  5. The Worthy-Cause Email

Remember, the only way to truly have a genuine relationship with your list is to blaze a new path and find unique ways of connecting and being a part of their lives. What do you think?

  • “The vast majority of “Announcement Emails” suck.”

    Ouch.

    Thanks for the tough love Sir Aaron.

    Could it be also that our announcement emails suck simply because we are lazy? In an age of templates and hacks for everything few folks are willing to make the required sweat investment to stand out hence the crowded beach on the sea of sameness.

    Thanks for the stellar instruction as always.

  • Aaron Orendorff

    Thank you for the kind words … as always! And YES, nothing kills engagement quite as much as just grabbing a template and not making it human.

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